A couple of weeks ago I was really bothered about my major. As the courses are getting harder and harder I have started questioning myself – WHY DO I WANT TO MAJOR IN CHEMICAL ENGINEERING ?
In quest of finding answers I realized that I always wanted to be medical doctor since grade 7,But why did I choose engineering after graduating from high school?. Ended up in frustration I turned to people(mostly professors) to ask them what makes them love what they are doing for living. The goal was to find some formula to increase my love and PASSION for engineering. I started identifying some common patterns, but perhaps equally interesting is what I didn’t find: very few of them knew in advance what they wanted to do with their life — their path was haphazard.
Still not satisfied , I informally talked to top students in university and asked their reasons for loving what they were doing. Their answers somehow matched to what professors said. Then ,I question relatively students of average academic standing. Their responses also had a pattern.
After series of questions and answers I have finally concluded that JUST FOLLOWING YOUR PASSION TURNS OUT TO WORST CHOICE EVER.
Now most of you will disagree with me,but what I mean by PASSION IN THIS CONTEXT IS THAT WE FOLLOW ARBITRARILY .For example; “I HAVE PASSION FOR GAMES ,SO I SHOULD MAJOR IN COMPUTER SCIENCE” ;” I HAVE PASSION FOR ENGINEERING BECAUSE IT SEEMS COOL – GADGETS ,WIRES etc”.
I bash the idea that we are hard-wired to follow a particular economic pursuit.
Rather what I learned from the interviews and talks I had with people who enjoy what they are doing, is that to really love your major, professions etc You MUST BUILD RARE AND VALUABLE SKILLS in that field.
To support this lets analyze what one of the subject a computer scientist working at UAEU said:
I asked him why did he ended up as a computer scientist ? Why not regular engineer – mechanical , civil , chemical? He said that during his first year of university he had little interest in computers but that didn’t take him anywhere. What made him love his chosen field was GRADUAL DEVELOPMENT. He focused on specifics rather than the economic gains from the field. To illustrate this he shared his story of tackling DISCRETE MATHEMATICs – a very basic course for all computer related fields. He said: “I used to work every day on it for sustained period of time.I watched Youtube videos explaining the concepts, solved hundreds of problems ,discussed the topics with seniors, And finally ended up with top score in the class”.But he also says that he didn’t made a good grade in courses not related to computer science(general electives)”. Today he LOVES HIS work so much that he ends up working extra hours in his office, not just because he is hard wired for programming but because he nearly PERFECTED his skills .
If we return to my own concern of why I chose chemical engineering, I found similar conclusion-I am not hardwired for chemical engineering neither I was for pursuing career medicine . Now, I realize why I used to think that I was good for studying medicine . EXPOSURE. I used to read instructions on back of medicine cover and I used to read human anatomy chart that I had at home . Also, till that time I was only interacting with members (cousins) of my family who were studying medicine.Later in grade 11 I got a lot more EXPOSURE to advance level math , physics and chemistry concepts. In process of preparing for exams I used to read a lot of articles on topics related to those subjects .The sources of exposure were teachers, exam prep process etc. I got to know a lot more about engineering by discussing the topics on engineering with my brother(Mech eng). The skills and knowledge I gained during this time span sparked interest in me to pursue engineering.
So what did I learned and what can you learn from this.
Firstly , I learned that Compelling careers often have complex origins that reject the simple idea that all you have to do is follow your passion.
Secondly, the take away message is that you will end up frustrated if you BLINDLY FOLLOW YOUR PASSION. Your passion will keep fading and you will come up with other passion and every time you will jump from one field to another , this will take you no where.
Also the the hard lesson I learned from my experience is that although I developed interest to pursue engineering,It doesnot means that I will have same level of zeal or drive throughout my 4 years of studies. This means I have to WORK DEEPLY to become erudite to keep up with hard courses. The contentment of People who love what they do instead grew over time as they got better at what they did, and then leveraged this skill to gain traits like competence, autonomy, and impact .